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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Song of Solomon 4

The king in a lyric song of five stanzas commends the beauty of the bride:

Verse 1

Thou hast doves’ eyes ... - Thine eyes are doves behind thy veil. So also in Song of Solomon 4:3; Song of Solomon 6:7; Isaiah 47:2, “veil” is better than “locks.”

That appear from ... - Or, “that couch upon Mount Gilead.” The point of comparison seems to be the multitudinousness of the flocks seen browsing on the verdant slopes of the rich pasture-lands Numbers 32:1; Micah 7:14.

Verse 2

Whereof ... - Or, “all of them are equal pairs, and none is bereft among them,” i. e., none has lost her mate. The points of comparison in this simile are of course brilliant whiteness, regularity, and completeness of number.

Verse 3

Thy speech is comely - Perhaps, “thy mouth,” i. e., the organ of speech.

Verse 4

The “tower of David” may be that mentioned in Nehemiah 3:25-27; Micah 4:8. For the custom of hanging shields and other weapons in and upon buildings suited for the purpose, see Ezekiel 27:10-11.

Verse 7

Section 4:7–5:1: The king meeting the bride in the evening of the same day, expresses once more his love and admiration in the sweetest and tenderest terms and figures. He calls her now “bride” (spouse, Song of Solomon 4:8) for the first time, to mark it as the hour of their espousals, and “sister-bride” (spouse, Song of Solomon 4:9-10, Song of Solomon 4:12; Song of Solomon 5:1), to express the likeness of thought and disposition which henceforth unites them. At the same time he invites her to leave for his sake her birthplace and its mountain neighborhood, and live henceforth for him alone.

Verse 8

The order and collocation of words in the Hebrew is grand and significant. With me from Lebanon, O bride, with me from Lebanon thou shalt come, shalt look around (or wander forth) from the height (literally “head”) of Amana, from the height of Shenir and Hermon, from dens of lions, from mountain-haunts of leopards. It is evidently a solemn invitation from the king in the sense of Psalms 45:10-11. Four peaks in the same mountain-system are here named as a poetical periphrasis for northern Palestine, the region in which is situated the native home of the bride.

(1) Amana (or Abana, 2 Kings 5:12), that part of the Anti-libanus which overlooks Damascus.

(2) Shenir or Senir, another peak of the same range (according to Deuteronomy 3:9, the Amorite name for Hermon, but spoken of here and in 1 Chronicles 5:23 as distinct from it).

(3) Hermon, the celebrated mountain which forms the culminating point of the Anti-libanus, on the northeastern border of the holy land.

(4) Lebanon, properly the western range overlooking the Mediterranean, but here used as a common designation for the whole mountain system.

Leopards are still not unfrequently seen there, but the lion has long since disappeared.

Verses 9-11

The similes employed refer to the graces of adornment, speech, and gesture, as expressions of inward character and sentiment.

Song of Solomon 4:9

With one of thine eyes - Rather, with one look of thine.

Song of Solomon 4:11

Honeycomb - literally, Thy lips distill a dropping (of pure honey). Compare the marginal references.

Verses 12-15

The loveliness and purity of the bride are now set forth under the image of a paradise or garden fast barred against intruders, filled with rarest plants of excellent fragrance, and watered by abundant streams. Compare Proverbs 5:15-20.

Song of Solomon 4:12

A fountain sealed - i. e., A well-spring covered with a stone Genesis 29:3, and sealed with “the king’s own signet” (Daniel 6:17; compare Matthew 27:66).

Song of Solomon 4:13

Orchard - This is the renderlng here and in Ecclesiastes 2:5 of “pardes” (see Nehemiah 2:8 note). The pomegranate was for the Jews a sacred fruit, and a characteristic product of the land of promise (compare Exodus 28:33-34; Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8; 1 Kings 7:18, 1 Kings 7:20). It is frequently mentioned in the Song, and always in connection with the bride. It abounds to this day in the ravines of the Lebanon.

Camphire - Cyprus. See Song of Solomon 1:14 note.

Song of Solomon 4:13-15

Seven kinds of spices (some of them with Indian names, e. g. aloes, spikenard, saffron) are enumerated as found in this symbolic garden. They are for the most part pure exotics which have formed for countless ages articles of commerce in the East, and were brought at that time in Solomon’s ships from southern Arabia, the great Indian Peninsula, and perhaps the islands of the Indian Archipelago. The picture here is best regarded as a purely ideal one, having no corresponding reality but in the bride herself. The beauties and attractions of both north and south - of Lebanon with its streams of sparkling water and fresh mountain air, of Engedi with its tropical climate and henna plantations, of the spice-groves of Arabia Felix, and of the rarest products of the distant mysterious Ophir - all combine to furnish one glorious representation, “Thou art all fair!”

Verse 16

The bride’s brief reply, declaring her affection for the king and willingness to belong to him.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.